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Here”s Why Rape Is Not About Sex But Is A Full-Scale Demonstration Of Domination

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By Shibika Suresh:

Man’s thirst for dominance and strength has existed for just about an eternity now, and one can only hope that it would be fulfilled. His way of expressing his territorial claim and the show of power that follows is something we are fully aware of. A majority of the Indian society is a sexually-repressed, patriarchal, and hypocritical one and has a kind of mindset that thinks of women as inferior beings. They feel they have the right to use violence to make a girl do what they want, regardless of that girl’s wishes, rights or needs.

rape

Rape is a reality so ubiquitous that just about every activity in a woman’s life is dictated by keeping in mind her safety and security. Women live it, breathe it, and feel it all the time. After the rape of the 5-year-old child by a 22-year-old, it became pretty clear to society that rape is more about power and less about sex itself. The sheer beastliness, with which candles and bottles were used to rape her, makes the message conveyed quite lucid that rape is nothing but a violent form of oppression. The child wasn’t “wearing revealing clothes” and “asking for it”. It makes no difference what the victim wears or what she does, so advice about clothing or avoiding certain social situations are, indeed, a patriarchal exercise in victim-blaming.

Rape is a statement of power, and not about one or a group of men’s sexual lust for a woman:
On one hand it is about brute personal power at the individual level that enables a male to overpower a woman. On the other hand, it is about the power of society that crafts an extremely lengthy discussion that condones the rapist in his abnormal behaviour. Many men cannot accept the fact that today’s women are as educated as they are, competing with them in the workplace, in the social arena and every other imaginable space that matters.

In the Indian sub-continent, men use a woman’s body as a battleground to settle scores and take revenge. In 1992, a Rajasthani anganwadi worker, Bhanwari Devi was a staunch opposer of child marriage. This prompted her ‘punishment’, and she was gang-raped by 5 upper-caste men who were not in favour of her work. Not only this, they attacked her husband Mohan Lal and left him unconscious, while the couple was working in their field. The government machinery did not provide her with any relief. The DSP who examined her for signs of injury doubted her story and sent her to the Primary Health Centre, where female doctors were not available at that time and the only present doctor sent her to another hospital in Jaipur. Even there, the Medical Jurist said that he couldn’t conduct the test without orders from the Magistrate. The Magistrate refused to give the orders until the next day, as it was past his working hours. The District Sessions Judge hearing the case stated in court that “upper caste men could not have raped a Dalit woman.”

So whether it is the upper caste men raping lower caste women, parading them naked, or upper classes/castes teaching a lesson to a lower class/caste guy for eloping with their daughter/sister, women are gang raped. Not only to show the woman that she is powerless, shamed and humiliated, but also to defeat and humiliate her man – husband, father, brother. It is a statement to the men of her community that ‘‘we are superior and all powerful and this is what we can do to your women’’. Rape is only a weapon, it is not the crime. The crime is the assaulter crowning himself as the most powerful and taunting the nearest male relative of the woman of his failure to protect his woman.

As portrayed in advertisements and other social media, an Indian woman is a Goddess, all pure and chaste, and if she dares to express herself sexually, she becomes the Fallen Woman. The way in which women are perceived in the society is what causes rape; it has nothing to do with consensual sex. Rape is an act of exertion of power. The fact that women and children are raped more often than men is a manifestation of lesser power and inferior status in society.

Samuel Johnson said that “Nature has given women so much that the law has wisely given them very little.” Families of the future need to be based on shared responsibility for housework, child care, earning a living and the likes, and these roles should not be gender defined. Change will only come when we recognise the true source of power in a democracy and learn to empower others in order to empower ourselves. We must learn to fight for others, as we would like others to fight for us.

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  1. Manan Grover

    India back then was an agrarian economy, where the contribution in generating income of the family by the girl child was considered zero,in fact she was taken as a liability who was to be married off. This made India a patriarchal society where men always had an upper hand.But India has come a long way.The economy shifted making women equally empowered as men, but the mindsets are taking too long to shift.
    Also our government by procrastinating taking any stern action against the rapists, is giving a very clear message that for this government rape is not that big a crime.

    1. Tanya Ambastha

      I agree. This is the way our idiotic society has come up wherein the position of females are always determined by the male. Call India a changing society but there are still crores of men who dont miss a chance of staring at girls in the most weird manner on the road or during a public transport,etc. Something strong should immediately be done to change the mindset.

  2. Baldeep Grewal

    Firstly, kudos to the writer for this amazing article. You actually went and analyzed the psychological reasons behind rape. The situation is very sad and I hate how helpless I feel. What does one do? If I go out and protest against this, sit in front of India Gate perhaps, I probably won’t see the light of the day ever again. The government continues to sleep. The public rises and falls, rises and falls. I’m just really scared that one day we will become so desensitized to these incidents that we would hardly bat an eyelid. Humanity is fast becoming an endangered species in our country.

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Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

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A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

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As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

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Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

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